Growing up in Bombay, I was what you could call “hip.”

I wore trendy clothes, combined traditional prints with artsy jewelry, wore kurtas and kurtis with jeans, and had the whole ‘cool-traditional-modern-hip’ vibe down pat. After I moved to the United States, I was at a complete loss. Somehow, my usual style of combining Indian fabrics and prints with jeans/trousers didn’t exactly fly here. It felt very forced, unnatural, over-the-top Indian. But I had no other style, knew no other way to dress. So I continued doing what I used to, and felt like a total cop-out. Plus, my young face and the jeans-tee combination had me constantly fielding questions like “Really, how old ARE you?,” “You look like such a college kid!” and such.

It is flattering to be told that one looks like an 18-year-old but it was time for me to dress up, dress my age.

Something changed this year and I think it had to do with The Working Closet. Susan Wagner’s simple writing and practical tips made me view my wardrobe and myself anew. I realized that I didn’t have to transform my closet or become a different person to start dressing trendy, the American way. It was about looking “put together” and it was well within my ken, with the clothes I had. It was about seeing the same pieces differently, wearing them differently, combining them differently. And then, shopping for clothes and accessories again acquired a joy of its own, like it used to be earlier. Putting outfits together, combining separates and turning them into unique combinations, playing with jackets and belts… now, it’s all fun!

And it continues on. And I am a happy shopper once again.